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Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) Regulations

Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) is a European Union regulatory framework for chemicals, which came into force on 1 June 2007. REACH has several aims and puts greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information that will be passed down the supply chain.

REACH will require some 30,000 chemical substances to be registered over a period of 11 years, excluding the following;

  • Radioactive substances
  • Substances under customs supervision
  • The transport of substances
  • Non-isolated intermediates
  • Waste
  • Some naturally occurring low-hazard substances

The registration process requires anyone manufacturing more than one tonne per year of these substances within the EU, or importing this amount into the EU, to generate data for all chemicals produced or imported, whether on their own or in one or more preparations. This information must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency. The registrants must also identify appropriate risk management measures and communicate them to the users.

In addition, REACH will allow the further evaluation of substances where there are grounds for concern and foresees an authorisation system for the use of substances of very high concern. This applies to substances that cause cancer, infertility, genetic mutations or birth defects, and to those that are persistent and accumulate in the environment. The authorisation system will require companies to switch progressively to safer alternatives where a suitable alternative exists. All applications for an authorisation need to include an analysis of alternatives and a substitution plan where a suitable alternative exists. Current use restrictions will remain under the REACH system.